By Keith Idec
In hindsight, Oscar De La Hoya admits Canelo Alvarez took the Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight too soon.
The money and exposure were unbeatable, though, and Alvarez’s promoter is certain that losing to the extraordinarily skilled, experienced Mayweather made the Mexican superstar a much better boxer. Alvarez was just 23 years old when he challenged Mayweather, who was 36 and the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the world when they fought in September 2013.
Mayweather won a majority decision in their 12-round fight only because besmirched judge C.J. Ross submitted a scorecard (114-114) that wasn’t reflective of how convincingly Mayweather won their junior middleweight match. Four years later, De La Hoya is convinced a 27-year-old Alvarez is much more prepared to upset Gennady Golovkin on September 16 – the first fight in which Alvarez has been an underdog in his eight bouts since Mayweather beat him.
“Obviously, Canelo is an ambitious person, an ambitious fighter,” De La Hoya said during a recent conference call. “Yes, he did take that fight too soon. But the progress that he has made has been incredible in terms of his punching power, his boxing abilities, you know, him throwing his combinations. His jab has improved tremendously.
“And then it’s only the beginning. I strongly feel that he’s only getting better at what he’s doing. And that’s a testament to his corner, to his trainers. I mean, they’re doing a phenomenal job with him. And it’s a testament to Canelo wanting to become the very best, at the end of the day.”
Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s co-trainer, second De La Hoya’s opinion of how much Mayweather helped Alvarez learn four years ago.
“There are so many things he gained in experience from that fight,” Reynoso said through a translator during the same conference call. “There’s so many things. There’s not one specific thing in general. He’s more of a complete fighter. But the experience was a big part of it, what he learned, and the experience that he got out of that fight, and some of the things that we worked on in the gym – but he’s more of a complete fighter now. And he’s a hundred-percent different fighter from the fighter that faced Mayweather that night.”
The 35-year-old Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) remains a slight favorite over Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) with a little more than three weeks to go before their 12-round fight for the Kazakh knockout artist’s IBF, IBO and WBA middleweight titles at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.